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  1. I saw this ballet Monday night for the first (and, almost certainly, the last) time. Copeland rode in on the yak to thunderous applause from the almost-sold-out house. Even the second rows of side boxes were mostly sold (despite those atrocious sight lines). Although I had looked at the NY Times video clip of one Praline variation, I didn't really notice if she was faithful to that or not. No obvious mistakes. She seemed in great spirits and did bring some enthusiastic energy to the second act. Cirio was impressive as the boy and drew loud cheers for his more athletic moves. I am pretty sure Ratmansky was in the audience - side orchestra, about row O, on the aisle. So was Macaulay, on the opposite side of the house. The audience seemed to love this ballet. I am glad I saw the sets/costumes after reading all the hoopla. Lots of very inventive and apparently difficult choreography. But the music was just deadening to me and I don't think the choreography is sufficiently interesting to sit through it again. I can see people bringing kids and ballet newcomers to this and at least there's a lot of worthwhile choreography for that introduction.
  2. I take issue with the widely held view that experience as a dancer is essential to being a good dance critic. Some of our best critics never set foot in a dance studio -- Robert Gottlieb and Arlene Croce, e.g. Having a good eye, memory, writing ability, and experience in other ways with the art form -- indeed, with all the arts -- are what matter.
  3. Thanks for the correction. I saw Royal Ballet's cinema broadcast a few years ago, with Nunez and Bonelli. I believe they also had rehearsal shots in the international Ballet day broadcast. I also have the Acosta DVD and that's with Rojo, so I misremembered that. That's such a demanding role, does anybody really look like they're near-death?
  4. I'm not sure this means she's retiring from the company. Vishneva dropped Swan Lake several years ago, didn't she? There are some really demanding technical roles that seem as difficult for the women as for the men as they get older - Don Q, Bayadere, SL.
  5. You might be referring to an old photograph, perhaps? She's now 80, born in 1936:
  6. It's hard to see how they could bring back Onegin without guests like Ferri and Vishneva. Perhaps Nunez could be brought over? She would also be a fabulous guest in Manon. (Her DVD with Acosta is glorious.) I see on YouTube that Kochetkova does Onegin with SFB, but I doubt people here would admire her dramatic interpretation, having seen these other possibilities. I wonder if Simkin has Onegin potential with the right partner - his partnering and dramatic expression have improved so much, along with his extraordinary technique. But with Kochetkova? I doubt that would be satisfying overall. Hammoudi was acceptable at the matinee Saturday, but he is still a disappointment. He just doesn't have the presence of others. Too often, a walk is just a pedestrian walk. An arm moves, but it's not presented. He never seems invested in the total package that changes an ordinary person to a dramatic dancer. On another matter: somebody asked how the russians pronounce "Onegin." There's actually a YouTube channel for pronunciations:
  7. I could go for a three-year rotation of Onegin-Manon-R&J -- similar appeal in all of them, great music, different choreographers, lavish partnering. BTW - Bolle and Nunez are doing 5 performances of Onegin at La Scala this fall: September 23 - October 18:
  8. Just back from the Cory-Stella Saturday matinee -- my second look at this wonderful pair. I teared up again in the final PdD! She so beautifully captures the complex emotions of the moment -- anger, resentment, haunting memories, lingering love,'s all there, all quite genuine. I did notice that some of their lifts, especially in the Act I bedroom PdD, suffer in contrast with Vishneva-Gomes. Specifically, she ends up on his shoulder or back, horizontally, in several lifts, but the entries all seemed cautious, overly-labored. But that was the only noticeable problem with the technique. A detail from the Vishneva-Gomes curtain calls Friday night: While all her friends and colleagues were bringing out lavish flower bouquets, Irina Kopolkova brought a bunch of yellow sunflowers. It seemed odd at the time, but I noticed today that in Tatiana's bedroom in Act I, there is a large bunch of sunflowers on the wall. So that was actually a thoughtful detail immediately understood by two Russian women.
  9. A few minor details: I noticed a professional film crew Friday night in the Grand Tier box closest to the stage. I wonder if they're making an archival tape for the NYPL or perhaps footage for Russian TV. Anybody know? When the corps men enter in Act I, they all do fun tricks. I noticed a spectacular revoltade/540 several nights, including Friday. Is that JooWon Ahn? Anybody know?
  10. At a Friends' Spotlight Seminar Tuesday, Luckett interviewed Copeland, Teuscher, and Shevchenko about "dream debuts." He asked Copeland about her scheduled debut in Praline next Monday, given that she had aleady cancelled twice. She seemed to rush to say: because of injury. And, yes, she did hope to debut next week. An awkward exchange, it seemed.
  11. One of my favorite critics today (Robert Gottlieb) said in reviewing the ABT season a couple of years ago that he never attends Manon as he considers it too schmaltzy. I haven't seen him at Onegin and wonder if he shares the feelings some of you are expressing for avoiding it. I might note that Sara Mearns said on Instagram that she went to see Hallberg last night and I noticed Gillian Murphy at the Wednesday matinee (again, judging from Instagram, Abrera is one of her best friends). I don't think I've noticed Macaulay at any performances, although perhaps I overlooked him. Judging from what you see on YouTube, Onegin is very popular world wide and is regularly performed (Dutch National, Bolshoi, La Scala, San Francisco, Canada, Royal Ballet).
  12. Yes - but not as weak as the matinee, which was by far the better performance. A young child was sitting with grandparents near me and they left after the first act. The whole dueling thing is maybe not a great ballet for young kids! Hard to explain why Hallberg and Seo were such a disappointment. I blame him for his stiff, ominous, nasty characterization as much as her flaccid one.
  13. Having now seen all four casts, I was surprised at some of them. The weakest was Seo and Hallberg. Seo is pedestrian and uninspiring, as Abatt noted. He was just mean-looking in Act I - very difficult to see how Tatiana could fall for him at all. It also seems he didn't have a mustache in Act I, but had acquired one in III. With some searching on YouTube, it turns out he performed this in Russia with Smirnova and I wonder if their coaching made him such an unattractive character. Here's a clip. The big surprise for me was the Wednesday matinee, Abrera and Stearns. From YouTube, it seems he performed this with Dvorenko, which might explain his strong portrayal. Hers was extraordinary. I never tear up at the ballet, but she got to me in the final PdD. He was an effective foil for her interpretation and their partnering seemed solid. Weak attendance, but this was not a good ballet for young children at a weekday matinee. I hope the Saturday matinee does better and would recommend it. Nobody beats Gomes-Vishneva for high-risk partnering and I can understand the over-the-top emotions from those two. And nobody beats her Act I bourees; Abrera and Seo were okay, but Ferri barely moved on those. Bolles and Gomes are such strong partners, those high-risk moves are glorious to watch. I worried with Hallberg and Seo, as they just didn't seem solid; I don't know how to explain that, other than lack of familiarity as partners and perhaps worry about injuries.
  14. Many of the dancers are scheduled for the Vail International Dance Festival July 29-August 12, including Dorrance (who is artist-in-residence):
  15. Yes - as I said - what a ridiculous cultural practice! Is this a test of how fast they can shoot their gun? or how good their gun is? If they want to test accomplishment, swords or fist fights would seem better, but maybe they thought that was too lower-class.